Where samplers rule.
Our collection includes over 700 needlework samplers ranging from as early as the 1400s, to pieces stitched in the 20th century. They offer a fascinating insight into the practice and teaching of an important domestic craft. Find out how the social and educational significance of samplers has changed over time, as well as their form and function. The English word 'sampler' derives from the Latin 'exemplum', or the old French term 'essamplaire', meaning 'an example'. Before the introduction of printed designs, embroiderers and lacemakers needed a way to record and reference different designs, stitches and effects. The answer was to create a sampler – a personal reference work featuring patterns and elements that the owner may have learned or copied from others, to recreate again in new pieces. Such stitch and pattern collections may have been assembled in a number of cultures where decorative needlework was widely practised. Early examples rarely survive, but the quality of the oldest surviving samplers suggests they were made by experienced hands, as well as children, (in many cultures learning needlework was an important part of a young girl's education). The earliest in our collection were found in Egyptian burial grounds, and probably date from the 14th or 15th centuries.
By Ink Circles